“Miracle” Cure for Opera Singer with Stage IV Lung Cancer

Lung cancer patients have new hope after new lung cancer treatments have shown remarkable promise in the case of a 42-year old opera singer with stage IV lung cancer. Zheng Cao, a guest singer with the San Francisco Opera, never smoked a cigarette in her life. But in 2008, a fall caused her seek medical attention, which revealed her advanced lung cancer purely by chance. The lung cancer diagnosis was worse than she could ever imagine. With no real symptoms, Zheng was found to have cancerous tumors everywhere, including 24 in her brain.

Given only six months to live, Zheng started on a new cutting edge targeted lung cancer treatment that included chemotherapy and surgery. The chemotherapy drug, Tarceva reduced her tumors, and the ELEKTA Gamma Knife surgery finished them off. Her doctor, noted UC San Francisco radiologist and oncologist David Larson zapped Zheng’s tumors for over six hours while the mezzo-soprano listened to Mahler’s “The Song of the Earth” on her iPod.

The results have not only saved her life and her career for now, they also brought her love. In addition to recovering from what was supposed to be terminal lung cancer, Zheng also found love. Zheng Cao and David Larson, her doctor, were married on December 17, 2010 at the Getty Mansion.